RICHMOND, Va. – With COVID-19 variants circulating around the world, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a new way to keep track of them in the commonwealth. The department has added a COVID-19 Variants of Concern dashboard in collaboration with the Department of General Services (DGS) Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (state public health lab).
It features variant information from participating labs that do COVID-19 testing. Data is from as early as the start of the pandemic.
The number of variants of concern reported to VDH is pretty small compared to the number of tests done daily, but it is valuable. For example, according to VDH, they received 1,000 variant reports the week of April 24, 2021.
The department uses the information to get an idea that there are many more cases of COVID-19 caused by variants statewide than what is identified.
Variants may be a concern because it:
- Spreads more easily
- Causes more severe illness
- Escapes the immune protection of current COVID-19 vaccines or by natural infection with the virus
- Makes viral tests less accurate
- Makes some treatments less effective
The dashboard will be updated once a week. Click here to take a look.